NFL DraftProspect Interviews

2021 NFL Draft Prospect Interview: Tyler Howerton, OL, Hampden-Sydney College

Tyler Howerton
Tyler Howerton exhibits excellence and leadership on and off the field at Hampden-Sydney College. He was an Academic All-American in 2019 and the recipient of the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. He recently told his story to Draft Diamonds writer Jimmy Williams.
  • Name: Tyler Howerton
  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 300 lbs
  • Position: OL
  • College: Hampden-Sydney College
  • Twitter: @tylerhowerton55

Did you participate in any other activities or campus organizations other than football?

At Hampden-Sydney, I have been involved in many organizations outside of football. I have served as an officer for the Tiger Athletic Club, a club dedicated to informing students about campus sports and motivating them to attend games. As a sophomore, I served as Treasurer of the club, then served this past junior year as President. I will serve one final year as Vice President of the club. Additionally, I have been a member of the Student-Athlete Mentors (SAMs) organization on campus. This group was created to assist any student-athletes struggling with academic or personal issues. Football players with such difficulties are encouraged to come talk to me or another mentor so that we can guide them through their issues or get them the appropriate help. SAMs also works to develop new ways to improve recruiting practices and retain athletes on their respective sports teams (especially freshman).

In addition to these activities, I am a member of Alpha Chi Sigma Fraternity, the Professional Chemistry Fraternity. I am actually a physics major and mathematics minor, but membership in this fraternity has been made open to all science majors at my school. The fraternity is not a social fraternity but rather one dedicated to supporting its members academically, providing professional networks, giving opportunities for brotherhood and friendship. I have served one semester as Treasurer of this organization. I am lastly a member of four academic honor societies. For one of them, Omicron Delta Kappa, I will serve as our circle’s Vice President in the coming year. 

How did you end up at Hampden-Sydney?

During my senior year of high school, some of the FCS football opportunities I was pursuing did not work out as I had hoped. Additionally, some opportunities didn’t pan out due to financial reasons. I began to see Division III football as the most likely possibility, especially since I was seeking a strong academic institution. No matter where I went, finding a school with rigorous academics and the types of programs I was interested in (physics, chemistry) was the most important factor in my decision. I ultimately narrowed my decision down to three schools that were near my hometown- Bridgewater College, Catholic University of America, and Hampden-Sydney College. Hampden-Sydney appeared late in the recruiting process but turned out to be the best fit for me with respect to academics, football, as well as campus and social life. It has been over three years since I made the decision to attend H-SC, and I am very happy with the path I chose. Everything I have learned, as well as the incredible alumni network of the institution, will help me throughout my career and life. 

What do your teammates say is your best quality?

My teammates would probably say that my best quality is my overall work ethic. Teammates frequently note the amount of time I spend in the library studying and working on homework. Though I spend most school nights late in the library, I am always ready for team lifts and practices the next day. My teammates are always impressed with the way I have been able to find great success in the classroom, weight room, and football field and never miss any obligations or fall behind anywhere. 

What kind of role do you see yourself in on the team? What scheme and/or position suits your skill set?

As a captain for the upcoming season, I must act as a leader not only on the offensive line but for the entire team. I must motivate my teammates and voice how things need to be done in practices, lifts, and games. Then, I must lead by example at practice and at games by demonstrating great effort, toughness, and attention to details. As a captain, I will play a major role in shaping the culture of the team, so it is important that I practice and play as I would expect anyone on the O-line or team to practice or play. My skill set is best suited to a mixed offense. I enjoy power and counter run plays and have found success as a guard both in pulling blocks and in base drive blocks. I additionally enjoy sprint-out pass plays. While I have spent most of my career playing guard, I have played a few games as center and am comfortable snapping the football and blocking a head-up nose guard. 

Who is the best player you have ever played against in college?

Probably the best player I have played against in college is Re’Shaun Myers, a linebacker for Bridgewater College. He was a Division I player that transferred to Bridgewater and made an immediate impact for their team. He certainly had a lot of tackles against our team and gave our offense a great deal of trouble in the two years that we faced him. Deservingly, he won conference Defensive Player of the Year last season. 

Check out NFL Draft Diamonds 2021 Small School Rankings

Which one of your teammates impresses you the most?

The teammate that impresses me the most is Phil Pullen, a senior defensive lineman. Phil is not only a tremendous football player and fellow captain, but an incredible person all-around. In his time at H-SC, he has made his mark on nearly every area of campus life. He was elected Student Body President for the upcoming year, has served on the Student Court and Student Senate, is a member of a fraternity, is a great student, and has participated in countless other campus organizations. Phil has been a close friend of mine and has always impressed me with how much he is able to accomplish. He inspires his teammates with his own great work ethic and attitude in the weight room and on the field, and I am excited to see what he does this upcoming season. 

Describe a time in your life when you were able to overcome a struggle.

Last fall, I did a physics research course for credit. Between that, my other classes, football, and other activities, the semester proved to be extremely stressful and was likely more than I could handle at the time. I had more 2 AM and 3 AM nights doing homework and research than probably all previous semesters combined. Every day came with a new set of challenges and usually no breaks. Toward the end of the semester, I worried that would not complete my research or maintain my grades in other classes. At the same time, we were having a pretty rough season. Ultimately, with countless hours of work, I managed to perform well through the end of the season, complete my research, and maintain my 4.00 GPA. 

What is something that you are most proud of? What would you say is your biggest achievement?

My greatest achievement is being awarded a Barry Goldwater Scholarship this past March. The Goldwater Scholarship is the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering in America. Each year, an academic institution can nominate a few students to compete for the award. The Barry Goldwater Foundation then selects about 300-400 students from the nomination pool to win the award. The Goldwater Scholarship represents the highest level of undergraduate achievement and is awarded based on the academic merit and research capabilities of the applicant. Goldwater seeks to identify and support the best students who are devoted to pursuing a career in science, math or engineering research and who are capable of doing so. For me, winning a Goldwater Scholarship was the culmination of all of the work I had put forth in my time in college so far in academics, athletics, research, and other activities. The award will not only aid me financially in the coming year, but will serve as a powerful distinction for my scientific career in graduate school and going forward as a researcher. 

Describe one of the most memorable plays of your collegiate career.

Last season, we defeated Christopher Newport University in overtime during a night game at their stadium. I played center that game, and as we pushed toward their end zone during our overtime drive, their band was playing so loud that it was nearly impossible to hear my quarterback’s cadence. We were nearly stopped during our drive, but on the last play, we ran a jet sweep for a touchdown. The game had a lot of ups and downs, and we hadn’t beaten them in years, so that win is definitely one that I will remember forever. 

If you didn’t play football, what other sport would you play?

I would likely play basketball. I played little league basketball for many years, but stopped playing when I began my football career. I really enjoyed the sport but found that my size and strength were better suited to football. 

What was your major/minor? Other than football, what would be your dream job?

I am majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics. Outside of football, my plan is to attend a top-tier graduate school and earn a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics or another specialized field of physics. I later hope to work as a researcher in my area of study. One research path that I am interested in pursuing is working to improve methods and find new methods for using radiation as a solution to human health problems, like cancer. Regardless of the specific research area I choose, I hope to use science to discover something that makes a real difference for a lot of people. 

What have you been working on in the off-season?

As a team, we have been dedicating this off-season mostly to improving team culture. We want to get our guys to work harder, be more consistent, and become tougher so that we may have a better season this fall. For me, this off-season has been about getting stronger, improving my mobility, and gaining a little bit of weight as cleanly as possible. Additionally, I have been working on standing out as a team leader both vocally and in my actions. 

Do you have a favorite athlete or professional team? Is there a player that you model your game after?

My favorite football team has always been the Redskins. There isn’t a particular player that I model my game after, but I do enjoy watching Quenton Nelson.

What do you do in your spare time? Do you have any hobbies? Do you have any secret talents?

In my spare time, I like to hang out with friends, listen to music, play video games, or practice piano. Over the last year and a half or so, I have begun learning piano and trying to play songs from different genres. 

Why do you play football?

I play football because I love the physicality and intensity of the game. I also like how much strategy is involved in it. There really isn’t anything like football, and right now is my only chance to play the sport competitively on a real team. Football is the sport that is most suited to a big guy like me, and playing on the line gives big guys a unique chance to battle and stand out, one that isn’t present in other sports. Beyond these things, I come from a family of football players, so I desire to continue the tradition and earn my own successes. 

Who or what motivates you the most?

I am motivated most by my own desire to be the absolute best I can be in every area of my life. Whether it’s academics, athletics, or other activities, I want to do everything that I can to get better. At the end, when, say, I take off my pads for the last time or turn in my last undergraduate exam, I need to know that I did everything in my power to be as successful as I could be.

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